In researching and writing KIBŌ, my goal was to enable a global readership to make Tohoku fare in their own kitchens, regardless of each reader's level of culinary skill or previous experience preparing Japanese food. To help me, I recruited dozens of volunteers (for a complete list, see page 125 of KIBŌ).  My "culinary advisory council" was an enthusiastic group: geographically diverse (mostly living outside Japan, both northern and southern hemisphere), demographically diverse (all ages, both genders, many nationalities), and occupationally diverse (business, student & academia, law, medicine, culinary industry, farming & fishing etc.). I asked them to test recipes and provide me with feedback. I wanted to know: could they make unfamiliar dishes following my written directions? Did they find the food appealing? Could they find unusual ingredients? If not, what substitutes did they suggest?

This Cohorts & Collaborators page gives me an opportunity to highlight the valuable contributions made by my volunteers. I begin by sharing with you the work of two of my dedicated Advisory Council members: MONTSE (below, left) and JOCELYN (below, right):

I used BANANA LEAVES to wrap the tōfu instead of the traditional wara straw or the dried bamboo leaves. It gives a greenish color but a great taste. I had doubts while wrapping the tōfu, but it came out great and gave me big ideas for new dishes.

This is a new way of handling tōfu that is not used in my country. It gave me a huge insight on an ingredient that I love.

Barcelona, SPAIN

Montse (Monteserrat Diez Rubio)

Testing your KIBŌ recipes taught me new cooking skills, especially the treatment of tōfu. I showed my tōfu-hating sister that this can be a great source of protein with lots of flavour.

SPECIAL NOTE: Friend and colleague, ANDREA NGUYEN, author of Asian Tofu (Ten Speed Press, 2012) and Viet World Kitchen website includes a wonderful blog entry on what she calls Fukushima Straw-Wrapped Tofu Recipe

Virginia, USA

Jocelyn Lofstrom

Part of my attraction to this project and to Japanese food is to experience the more authentic taste of Japan. I enjoyed seeking out unusual ingredients, scouring my local Asian markets – Korean, Chinese and Japanese – for various items.

One ingredient was especially intriguing… and challenging: dried chrysanthemum petals (below, left). In desperation, I called my favorite Japanese restaurant in D.C., Sushi Taro, which serves high-quality sushi and kaiseki meals. They said, “Of course we have hoshi-giku!” and offered to sell me some. They also told me if I ever have problems finding a Japanese ingredient I should call them.

We LOVED Harako Meshi (above) and plan to make it often. The ikura (red salmon caviar) on top makes the final dish wonderful! We liked it with a touch of yuzu kosho (peppery citrus paste), which added a fresh, spicy note… great contrast to the rich salmon and salty-soy tastes. We easily found jars of yuzu kosho at local (Washington, D.C.) Japanese markets.

During the years that my husband and I had lived near Tokyo, Elizabeth Andoh’s Japanese cooking courses enriched our experience of Japanese culture and food. When the disaster struck, my horror and heartsickness were compounded by my worries about friends I had visited in Tokyo only three weeks earlier. When Elizabeth requested volunteers to test recipes for a cookbook devoted to helping the Tohoku region, I begged to be a part of something hopeful. At a recent dinner party, I featured the food and saké of Tohoku. The food is enhanced by being shared.